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The US Olympic Committee Doesn’t Know How Many Blacks Are on the US Olympic Team, But I Do!
Have you ever wondered how many African-Americans make up the U.S. Olympic Team? Last week, I wanted to know the answer to this question and if I had to calculate the number myself, I was going to do it.
I asked the United States Olympic Committee if they had concrete numbers on how many African-American athletes are on the US team. I was told they “didn’t keep that type of information.” They did suggest I peruse the yet to be published US Olympic Team Media Guide to figure it out myself.
If the USOC communications thinks looking at an athlete’s photo would be the best and only way to judge if an athlete is African-American, then I decided to use what I could get my hands on the quickest – Google images.
I googled every single athlete on the U.S. Olympic Team in order to determine the representation of African-American athletes. It took me almost five hours to comb through the 530-member U.S Olympic Team.
And with the certainty that only my eyes can provide, I can say that of the 529 U.S. athletes, about 24% of the team are African-Americans. To follow the team closely for the next month, I even created a twitter list of the athletes who have accounts, at least 100.
From the looks, some of the U.S. Sports are dominated by blacks—track, basketball, boxing. Here are some sports that I’ll be glued to.
When track & field begins in the second week of the Olympics, the “Black Olympics” start. Half of the African-American athletes at the Olympics will be competing in Track and Field. They make up half of that team of 125. Contrary to popular stereotypes, they aren’t just in the sprints (100m-400m). You can find them in distance events (Bernard Lagat in the 5000m) and in field events (Aretha Thurmond in the Discus)
Swimming is representing. Swimming, the sport that dominates the first week of the Games, usually only musters up one African-American swimmer, but this time there will be three in the water. Cullen Jones returns to swim in his first individual events, the 50m and 100m freestyle. The 17 year-old Lia Neal will swim a leg of the 4×100-meter relay. Anthony Ervin, the first Olympic swimmer of African-American descent, returns to the Olympic pool 12 years after his first gold in the 50-meter freestyle.
Gymnastics gyms around the country will be full of black girls and boys this fall. Gabby Douglas and John Orozco both finished first at the Olympic Trials and have a strong chance to medal in the Olympic Games all-around. I’m sure every black boy and girl in the U.S. will be tuned in to watch them on NBC this summer.
African-American men don’t like volleyball. About one-third of the 16 member women’s volleyball team is African-American, but my eyes couldn’t find one African-American male on the men’s volleyball team. Since every male volleyball member is over 6’3”, I’m going to blame it on basketball.
The legacy of African-Americans in fencing is still strong. Ruth C. White was the first African-American woman to win a U.S. national fencing championship–in 1969. Peter Westbrook fenced in four Olympic Games starting in 1976. And today, both the women and men’s fencing teams include two African-Americans, Maya Lawrence and Nzingha Prescod, and Miles Chamley-Watson and Daryl Homer, respectively.
Basketball is no surprise. Men and women’s basketball have the highest representation of African-Americans as a percentage of the team. Wanna guess the percentage?
The MMA fighting will have plenty of African-American pickings after the Olympics. African-American boxers and wrestlers have long represented the U.S. at the Olympics and this year is not different. But this time around you can throw in a couple of women boxers, Clareesa Shields (Middleweight) and Queen Underwood (Lightweight).
Those Williams girls sure do love the Olympics. Venus Williams returns for her fourth straight Olympic Games and Serena will be in her third. Donald Young, the 22-year-old from Atlanta who is ranked 58th in the world, will join them on the men’s team.
These teams need diversity! There are 14 sports that don’t “appear” to have any African-Americans—Canoe/Kayak, Cycling, Diving, Equestrian, Field Hockey, Judo, Modern Pentathlon, Sailing, Shooting, Synchronized Swimming, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Water Polo and Weightlifting. Sign up your six-year old child in a class for one of these sports now.
Don’t forget, if you want to follow African-American athletes on twitter, then follow my list at this link here.